JOSEPH GILSON, son of Joseph and Hepsibah Gilson, and grandson of Joseph and Mary (Cooper) Gilson, was born at Groton about 1694. He enlisted from Groton, and was one of the five who escaped wounds in the fight of May 8, 1725. His wife was Sarah, but a record of his marriage is not found. Nine children were born at Groton. - see citation 3
This battle known as Lovewell's Fight or the Battle of Pequawket is describia in Wikipedia: The date is given as May 8 or 9: 1725
The Battle of Pequawket (also known as Lovewell's Fight) occurred on May 9, 1725 (O.S.), during Father Rale's War in northern New England. Captain John Lovewell led a privately organized company of scalp hunters, organized into a makeshift ranger company, and Chief Paugus led the Abenaki at Pequawket, the site of present-day Fryeburg, Maine. The battle was related to the expansion of New England settlements along the Kennebec River (in present-day Maine).
The battle was the last major engagement between the English and the Wabanaki Confederacy in Governor Dummer's War. The Fight was celebrated in song and story for at least several generations and became an important part of regional lore—even influencing the stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne in the early 19th century as well as other writers. Its importance is often exaggerated in local histories, as arguably the August 1724 English raid on Norridgewock was probably more significant for the direction of the conflict and in bringing the Abenaki to the treaty table. But the Norridgewock raid, also celebrated in song and poetry, has been less well remembered, probably because it was essentially a massacre of Indian civilians by New England forces.
1 Historical context of Dummer's War
2 Lovewell's expeditions
3 The battle
4 An Abenaki account of the battle
8 Notes and citations
9 External links
Historical context of Dummer's War
The Treaty of Utrecht (1713), which ended Queen Anne's War, had facilitated the expansion of New England settlement. The treaty, however, had been signed in Europe and had not involved any tribes of the native's Wabanaki Confederacy. Since they had not been consulted, they protested this incursion into their lands by conducting raids on British fishermen and settlements. For the first and only time, Wabanaki would fight New Englanders and the British on their own terms and for their own reasons and not principally to defend French imperial interests. In response to Wabanaki hostilities toward the expansion, the Governor of Nova Scotia, Richard Philipps, built a fort in traditional Mi'kmaq territory at Canso, Nova Scotia in 1720, and Massachusetts Governor Samuel Shute built forts on traditional Abenaki territory at the mouth of the Kennebec River. The French claimed the same territory on the Kennebec River by building churches in the Abenaki villages of Norridgewock and Medoctec further upriver. These fortifications escalated the conflict.
In early September 1724 some Indians came to Dunstable and captured two men. When they did not return from work a party of ten or more men started in pursuit. One man, Josiah Farwell, warned the leader of the possibility of running into an ambush. Despite this the posse rushed ahead with Farwell following behind. They were ambushed and eight of the men were killed and the others, excepting Farwell who barely escaped, were captured.
Because of these attacks it was thought best to carry on the war more vigorously. Bounties for scalps were once again offered by the provincial government in order to encourage volunteer companies to form (and save the colony the time and expense of raising troops). John Lovewell quickly organized a company of amateur scalp-hunters from the Dunstable area. While they were favored by a grant from the provincial assembly, these troops were not part of the Massachusetts military establishment—but rather a privately organized group of raiders. Lovewell was not a commissioned officer in the provincial forces. Lovewell, whose maternal grandparents had been killed and scalped by Indians, raised the company of thirty men and was appointed by them as captain. In part because of Farwell's commonsense Lovewell selected him as his second-in-command and he was made Lieutenant. Lovewell and Farwell went on three scalp hunting expeditions from December to May.
Lovewell's third expedition consisted of only 47 men, many of whom were unfamiliar with ranging. With men who were more inexperienced and far fewer in number than in the earlier expeditions, they left from Dunstable (present day Nashua, New Hampshire) on April 16, 1725. The Indian guide and another were unable to continue and returned to Dunstable along with a relative of the injured colonial. When another fell ill they built a fort at Ossipee and left 10 men, including the ill man, the doctor and John Goffe, to garrison the fort while the rest left to raid the Abenaki village of Pequawket, located near the Saco River. On May 9, as the 34 militiamen were being led in morning prayer by chaplain Jonathan Frye, a lone Abenaki warrior was spotted hunting at the lakeshore. Suspecting that this man was a decoy and that there was an Indian force in front of them, nonetheless the rangers decided to hide their packs and proceed cautiously. Lovewell's men waited until the warrior was close and, although accounts differ in who fired first, the Abenaki did have a chance to fire his fowling piece loaded with beavershot at close range, wounding Lovewell and another. Further fire from the rangers killed the Indian. Chaplain Frye is reported to have scalped the dead Indian.
Meanwhile, the rangers' packs had been discovered by an Abenaki war party (some accounts say two) who, seeing that they out-numbered the rangers, hid in ambush. When the rangers returned to their packs (in single file) the Abenakis fired at the front and rear and charged. Lovewell was killed in the first volley along with eight others. Lovewell's lieutenants, Josiah Farwell and Jonathan Robbins, were among the wounded at this point (they critically). Ensign Seth Wyman organized the defence and was in command of the rangers during the rest of the fight.
After the initial volleys the battle turned into a firefight with individuals on both sides hiding behind trees in the pine plain. Being outnumbered the rangers had to take care not to be surrounded. Since a tree did not provide any cover from the sides and rear the colonials slowly pulled back to the lake to protect their rear. They then withdrew eastward to a location passed twice earlier that day where, in addition to the lake protecting them from the south, they had a swollen stream on the east (now named Fight Brook,) flooded land to the north and fallen trees to the west. Although surrounded they were able to keep the more numerous enemy further away from accurate fire.
During the battle, the Indian war chief Paugus was shot dead. There is debate over who shot him. Some posit that he was shot by John Chamberlaine  (John Chamberlain, the Indian fighter at Pigwacket) while others report that it was Seth Wyman who killed the warrior with the next shot. With the death of Paugus, the rest of the Indians soon vanished into the forest.
An Abenaki account of the battle
The story of the Battle of Pequawket recounted below was originally told by a daughter of Powack, a chief of the Penobscots, another Indian nation allied with the Abenaki in the Wabanaki Confederacy. It was retold through generations until written down. It appears, as written, in Kayworth and Potvin's book.
Powack wanted peace with the English. He called a council which then sent him as an envoy to the Pequawkets. Powack took his daughter and Little Elk, her betrothed.
While they are staying with the Pigwacketts, Paugus, a non-Pequawket, comes to the village to recruit for a raiding party against the English. He leads all the warriors down the Saco River to English settlements in Maine. The remaining villagers fish at the south end of Saco (Lovewell) Pond until the raiding party finally returns to be the vanguard back to the village. On the way back to the village the Penobscots hear gunfire from the battle.
"Paugus tell Powak he come on packs of white men. He count packs and know he has many more braves than whites so he attacks"
Powack and Little Elk remain at the battle while all the non-combatant Abenaki skirt the battle to return to the village.
""Long after moon is up, braves come to village only few. Say Paugus is killed, Powak is killed, Little Elk is killed."
The remaining Pequawkets move to Canada and Powack's daughter goes with them until she finds someone to take her back home.
Only 20 of the militiamen survived the battle; three died on the retreat home. The Abenaki losses except for Paugus are unknown. The Abenaki deserted the town of Pequawket after the battle and fled to Canada.
More than one hundred years later, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (poem, "The Battle of Lovells Pond"), Nathaniel Hawthorne (story, "Roger Malvin's Burial") and Henry David Thoreau (passage in the book A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers) all wrote about Lovewell's Fight.
Lovewell and his militia company (often called "snowshoe men") of 30 men left Dunstable on their first expedition in December of 1724 , trekking to the north of Lake Winnipesaukee into the White Mountains On January 29 , 1725 , Lovewell and 87 men made a second expedition to the White Mountains. For more than a month they marched through the winter forest, encountering neither friend nor foe. Some troops were sent back home. The remainder made a wide loop up towards the White Mountains, followed the Bearcamp River into the Ossipee area, then headed back in an easterly direction along the Maine and New Hampshire border.
On February 20 they came across a recently inhabited wigwam and followed tracks for some five miles. On the banks of a pond at the head of the Salmon Falls River in the present town of Wakefield they came upon more wigwams with smoke rising from them. Some time after 2:00 AM Lovewell gave the order to fire. A short time later ten Indians lay dead. The Indians were said to have had numerous extra blankets , snowshoes , moccasins , a few furs and new French muskets which would seem to indicate that they were on their way to attack frontier settlements. Preventing such an attack is probably the true success of this expedition.
Early in March Lovewell's troops arrived in Boston . They paraded their Indian scalps through the streets, Lovewell himself wearing a wig made of Indian scalps. The bounty paid was 1000 pounds (100 per scalp).
The third expedition consisted of only 46 men and left from Dunstable on April 16 , 1725 . They built a fort at Ossipee and left 10 men, including the doctor and John Goffe , to garrison the fort while the rest left to raid the Abenaki town of Pequawket , now Fryeburg, Maine . On May 9 , as the militiamen were being led in prayer by chaplain Jonathan Frye, a lone Abenaki warrior was spotted. Lovewell's men waited until the warrior was close and fired at him but missed. The Abenaki returned fire, killing Lovewell. Ensign Seth Wyman , Lovewell's second in command, killed the warrior with the next shot. Chaplain Frye then scalped the dead Indian. The militia had left their packs a ways back so as to be unencumbered by them in battle. Two returning war parties of Abenaki led by Paugus and Nat found them and waited in ambush for the returning militia. Eight men were killed in the first volley by the Indian warriors. The battle continued for more than 10 hours until Ensign Wyman killed the Indian war chief Paugus. With the death of Paugus the rest of the Indians soon vanished into the forest. Only 20 of the militiamen survived the battle; three died on the retreat home. The Abenaki losses except for Paugus are unknown. The Abenaki deserted the town of Pequawket after the battle and fled to Canada .
Aftermath of the fight
Later that month Colonel Ebeneazer Tyng arrived with a large force of militia to bury the dead and take revenge on the Abenaki who had already fled. Without support from the French the western Abenaki were forced to make peace with Massachusetts and New Hampshire. John Lovewell's widow and children along with the other widows and children of those slain in the battle were given large tracts of land in what is now Pembroke, New . Lovewell Mountain in Washington, New Hampshire , which he climbed to do surveillance , is named for him.
Ballad of Lovewell's Fight
This ballad was written in New England soon after the action on May 8, 1725
Of worthy Captain LOVEWELL, I purpose now to sing,
How valiantly he served his country and his King;
He and his valiant soldiers did range the woods full wide,
And hardships they endured to quell the Indian's pride.
'Twas nigh unto Pigwacket, on the eighth day of May,
They spied a rebel Indian soon after break of day;
He on a bank was walking, upon a neck of land,
Which leads into a pond as we're made to understand.
Our men resolved to have him, and travelled two miles round,
Until they met the Indian, who boldly stood his ground;
Then up speaks Captain LOVEWELL, "Take you good heed," says he,
"This rogue is to decoy us, I very plainly see.
"The Indians lie in ambush, in some place nigh at hand,
In order to surround us upon this neck of land;
Therefore we'll march in order, and each man leave his pack;
That we may briskly fight them when they make their attack."
They came unto this Indian, who did them thus defy,
As soon as they came nigh him, two guns he did let fly,
Which wounded Captain LOVEWELL, and likewise one man more,
But when this rogue was running, they laid him in his gore.
Then having scalped the Indian, they went back to the spot,
Where they had laid their packs down, but there they found them not,
For the Indians having spied them, when they them down did lay,
Did seize them for their plunder, and carry them away.
These rebels lay in ambush, this very place hard by,
So that an English soldier did one 0f them espy,
And cried out, "Here's an Indian”; with that they started out,
As fiercely as old lions, and hideously did shout.
With that our valiant English all gave a loud huzza,
To show the rebel Indians they feared them not a straw:
So now the fight began, and as fiercely as could be,
The Indians ran up to them, but soon were forced to flee.
Then spake up Captain LOVEWELL, when first the fight began,
"Fight on my valiant heroes! you see they fall like rain."
For as we are informed, the Indians were so thick,
A man could scarcely fire a gun and not some of them hit.
Then did the rebels try their best our soldiers to surround,
But they could not accomplish it, because there was a pond,
To which our men retreated and covered all the rear,
The rogues were forced to flee them, although they skulked for fear.
Two logs there were behind them that close together lay,
Without being discovered, they could not get away;
Therefore our valiant English they travelled in a row,
And at a handsome distance as they were wont to go.
'Twas ten o'clock in the morning when first the fight begun,
And fiercely did continue until the setting sun;
Excepting that the Indians some hours before 'twas night,
Drew off into the bushes and ceased a while to fight.
But soon again returned, in fierce and furious mood,
Shouting as in the morning, but yet not half so loud;
For as we are informed, so thick and fast they fell,
Scarce twenty 0£ their number at night did get home well.
And that our valiant English till midnight there did stay,
To see whether the rebels would have another fray;
But they no more returning, they made off towards their home,
And brought away their wounded as far as they could come.
0f all our valiant English there were but thirty-four,
And of the rebel Indians there were about fourscore.
And sixteen 0f our English did safely home return,
The rest were killed and wounded, for which we all must mourn.
Our worthy Captain LOVEWELL among them there did die,
They killed Lieut. ROBBINS, and wounded good young FRYE,
Who was our English Chaplain; he many Indians slew,
And some of them he scalped when bullets round him flew.
Young FULLAM too I’ll mention, because he fought so well,
Endeavoring to save a man, a sacrifice he fell:
But yet our valiant Englishmen in fight were ne'er dismayed,
But still they kept their motion, and WYMAN'S Captain made,
Who shot the old chief PAUGUS, which did the foe defeat,
Then set his men in order, and brought off the retreat;
And braving many dangers and hardships in the way,
They safe arrived at Dunstable, the thirteenth day of May.
The first published poem of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow , 1807–1882, was "The Battle of Lovells Pond". The poem, written when Longfellow was 13, and published in the Portland [Maine] Gazette of November 21, 1820 , retold the story of John Lovewell's death.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's 1832 story, "Roger Malvin's Burial", concerns two colonial survivors returning home after what he calls "Lovell's Fight."
JOSEPH GILSON, son of Joseph and Hepsibah Gilson, and grandson of Joseph and Mary (Cooper) Gilson, was born at Groton about 1694. He enlisted from Groton, and was one of the five who escaped wounds in the fight of May 8, 1725. His wife was Sarah, but a record of his marriage is not found. Nine children were born at Groton
Revised: February 19, 2018